WHAT DID GOD MEAN BY IDENTIFYING HIMSELF TO MOSES AS “I AM WHO I AM”?

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When you ask for someone’s identity, you normally get a name. Names distinguish individuals from other people. Jane differs from Sarah and from Jennifer, who are all women, similar in many ways yet distinct. But God has no similar others; thus God has no name.

God describes Himself to Moses not by a name but by a declaration of essential character. The verbs in this quotation are common imperfect tenses of the verb “to be,” suggesting continuing unfinished action. God is neither past tense “was,” future tense “will be,” nor static present tense “is.” God is ongoing present active: the Is-ing One. What better description of the eternal, living God than this! God is the One who is, always and forever, living and active, not Is-ness (a state of being) but Is-ing (living Being).

EXODUS 3:14- And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

I AM WHO I AM

When God appeared in a burning bush, Moses wanted to know who was sending him back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery. He was probably puzzled by the Lord’s reply that the One behind this plan was “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14 NIV).

This name for God is a form of the verb to be in the Hebrew language. It expresses His self-existence and the unchangeableness of His character. He transcends the past, the present, and the future. The meaning of this name can be summarized like this: He always has been, He is, and He always will be.

This divine name is often referred to as the tetragrammaton, a Greek term that means “four letters.” The English equivalent of this name in Hebrews is YHWH, thus “four letters.” The Israelites believed this name was too sacred to be pronounced or read aloud. So they cloaked the name by putting it in a form that could not be spoken. The only way to pronounce it in English is to add vowels to the four consonants, like this: YaHWeH. This give us the English term Yahweh. In most English versions of the Bible, this divine name is rendered simply as “Lord.”

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